We had a rough year. From running our base on our own to riots in town, we were happy to close the door on 2019. 2020 would be a good year. We had a furlough coming! I couldn’t wait to relax, let down my cultural guard, connect with friends and family, and forgo cooking from scratch.
We had pinned so many hopes on a good furlough, then COVID-19 happened.
We watched the spread and wondered if we would be able to make it out of our country of service. Thankfully we left just before countries around us started closing to transit flights. We landed in the US on March 6 and enjoyed one week of freedom before social distancing orders took over. Our furlough plans crashed down around us as spending time with much of our extended family, friends, and our sending church became impossible.
We still have a lot to be grateful for. We are safe. We are provided for. We do not lack. But man oh man we are disappointed.
Disappointment is where I sit today and type out this message to you. A part of me feels like this disappointment is a sign of just how self centered I really am. The world is sick and I feel sad because I can’t take my children to the movies?
That’s the thing about disappointment, no amount of attempting to reframe my mind to be grateful for what I have really helps. I am thankful for where we are and how we are able to wait out this virus in safety, but I am also really, truly, sad about my dashed expectations.
One of my favorite passages of scripture is Luke 24:13-35. It’s the day of Jesus’ resurrection, but as far as the two disciples in the story are concerned, Jesus is dead. They walk along the road to Emmaus rehashing the events of the last years and days. They are heartbroken and confused. Jesus appears, unrecognized, and walks alongside them asking what they are talking about. The disciples recount the story of Jesus and the crucifixion, then say my favorite line of the entire passage, “but we had hoped that he was the one…”
But we had hoped. Can you hear the disappointment? Can you hear the sadness?
This is where I find myself, walking loops around the neighborhood, talking to Jesus, recounting events and spilling out my spoiled hopes.
I had hoped to use this time to let my children experience American culture.
I had hoped to make memories with family we haven’t seen in years.
I had hoped to spend hours catching up with friends over coffees or pizzas.
I had hoped to share face to face stories of all the things we’ve experienced over this last term.
I had hoped…
In the Emmaus story, Jesus listens. He lets the disciples share everything on their mind, all their disappointments, before saying, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all the prophets have spoken!”
I don’t believe Jesus was angry with them. The passage is full of tenderness, of walking alongside, of listening, and of explaining. Jesus took them back through the story from the beginning and expanded on all the scriptures, he replaced disappointment with understanding and peace. At their invitation he even went on to stay and eat with them before being recognized.
As I pour out my disappointments, I ask for understanding and peace. I know the One walking alongside me. I’m not looking for some bigger reason of why this virus had to happen, but I am asking for understanding that even in the midst of everything, God is still good. I long to hear that gentle chastisement, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe!” and for his outlining of truth-
Truth that God is at work in a broken world. That he cares for us all. And that no disappointment, no matter how small, is too small for his attention and teaching.